Summer is the season of professional learning as educators prepare for the upcoming academic school year. As an adjunct professor, we also spend time together, as a faculty, to reflect on our mission and goals. At our recent meeting, we spent time looking at data. Not grade point averages, not enrollment data, not student demographics data… we looked at student survey data- what students believe about their experience at our university. Student were asked the following questions:
- Do you have a professor who makes learning exciting for you?
- Do you have a professor who utilizes assignments and learning activities that challenge you to go deeper and apply your knowledge?
- Has one of your professors developed a relationship with you that clearly demonstrates his or her care for you?
- Do you have a professor who encourages you to see out, identify, and pursue your calling(s) and passion(s)?
- Do you have a professor who has aided your Christian walk and helped you grow in your intimacy and connection with God?
The bottom line- our students want to development relationships with us! They need to feel connected. They need to feel we are invested in their success after we submit final grades each semester.(These are PK-16 need for all learners!) We were each challenged to review our syllabus and learning activities and determine what we are going to change in order to meet the needs of our students. I have always put emphasis on students demonstrating mastery of content through projects and application-based learning activities. However, truly reflecting on these questions, I mean really letting the student responses settle with my soul, I knew I could do more. Here are a few ideas I came up with:
- Offer time before and after class for open discussion and coaching conversations- a time to discuss academic and personal successes, issues, challenges
- Spend more time during our first class session to do more community building activities and get to know each other at a deeper level.
- Have a repertoire of devotional lessons to connect with what students are experiencing.
- Pray with my students, especially for those that are are experiencing academic or personal challenges.
I am starting year three of teaching at the university level, and I reflect each semester and revamp my syllabus and learning activities. Each group of students bring different experiences to the classroom. My goal is to continue to become a better educator, day by day, book by book, faculty meeting by faculty meeting. I’m all in. I am invested in the success of each learner I touch. This year, my goal is to stay rooted in Christ-centered servant leadership. 2015-2016 will be the best yet!
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. -Colossians 2:6-7